Ike Davis: Elite Power Hitter?

Chris McGrath

Taking a look at Mets first baseman Ike Davis who has the power to lead the National League in home runs in the very near future.

Ike Davis was drafted in the first round, the 18th overall pick, in the 2008 Amateur Draft by the New York Mets out of Arizona State University, where he hit 32 home runs and drove in 200 runs in 684 at bats over three seasons. He signed early enough to get 215 at bats in the New York Penn rookie league in 2008, but showed little to no power in his first taste of minor league pitching. Not what the Mets signed up for.

He started the 2009 season for High A Port St. Lucie, hitting .288-.376-.486 with 7 HRs and driving in 28 in 255 at bats before earning a promotion to AA Binghamton. At AA Binghamton, the more advanced pitching was no match for Davis as he hit .309-.386-.565 with 13 HRs, 30 runs and 43 RBI in just 207 at bats. The solid performance at AA earned him a promotion to AAA Buffalo to start the 2010 season, but he didn't last there long, getting just 33 at bats before an early April promotion to the big league club.

In his rookie season in the big leagues, Davis hit .264-.351-.440 with 19 HRs, 73 runs and 71 RBI in 523 at bats flashing some of the power the Mets saw in him when they drafted him. He missed most of the 2011 season with a left ankle sprain and bone bruise that might have been misdiagnosed a few times by the Met's medical staff.

Moving forward to 2012, Davis struggled to start the season. Here is a look at his monthly triple slash lines:

April: .185-.241-.309, 3 HRs, 8 RBI

May: .154-.214-.282, 2 HRs, 13 RBI

June: .264-.363-.563, 6 HRs, 24 RBI

July: .221-.257-.537, 9 HRs, 15 RBI

August: .287-.370-.517, 5 HR, 14 RBI

Sept.: .242-.373-.527, 7 HRs, 16 RBI

Two things really stand out for me when analyzing his monthly splits: 1) he slugged over .500 in each of the last four months of the season, ranging from .517 to .563; and 2) in the last two months of the season, he walked 31 times, one more than he did in the previous four months combined. He also put up a .363 OBP or better in three of the last four months of the season.

Looking at the last four months of the season, he hit .253 with 27 HRs and 69 RBI in 360 at bats, or a home run every 13 at bats. He averaged almost 7 home runs and 17 RBI in each of the last four months as well. Should he be able to maintain that home run pace over 520 at bats, he would hit 40 home runs. Counting on 40 home runs from a guy who swings and misses as often as Davis does is a long shot, but if Davis can show more patience at the plate as he did in three of the last four months of the season, he could certainly approach 40 bombs in 2013.

Davis' HR/FB rate is also trending in the right direction, as it has increased from 12% in 2010, to 21.1% last season, so he would have to maintain that rate to approach 40 home runs next season.

But, Davis will have to improve in two areas before reaching the 40 home run plateau. He needs to hit better than .174 vs lefties, as he did in 2012. He hit .295 vs lefties in 2010, so if he can split the difference and hit around .240 against southpaws, that should help him get there. In addition, Davis was horrible at home last season, hitting just .188 with 11 of his home runs coming at Citi Field. Most hitters hit better at home than they do on the road, and Davis hit .271 with 8 of his 19 home runs in 2010, so there is hope that he can improve upon his .188 batting average at home last season.

If Davis can get off to a hot start like he did to start the 2011 season, before his ankle injury, and show some improvement hitting at home and vs lefties, I see him challenging for the National League home run title in 2013. He hit 32 home runs in 2012 after a horrible first two months, and ended the season tied for fourth in the NL in homers, so he has a very good shot at the NL home run title should he be able to put together six power-filled months like he did in June through September last season.

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